Homelessness in Turlock, CA

This project focuses on homelessness in Turlock, CA. Homelessness is a complex problem for the City, and was previously explored by researchers from CSU Stanislaus (Garcia & Jasek-Rysdahl, 2007). That study concluded that there was much mistrust, anger, and frustration surrounding the issue. Eight years on, this project revisited the issue to discover if anything has changed for Turlock’s homeless population. The project had three main aims. First, the project team sought an understanding of the local services available to homeless people. Second, the team sought an insight into the needs and experiences of this diverse population. Third, the team sought to offer recommendations based on the voices of Turlock’s homeless people and those who dedicate their time to helping them. The team carried out observations at two key locations in Turlock that provide services to the homeless. Discussions were held with salaried and volunteer staff at these locations. Finally, a focus group was held with homeless individuals who use these services. Findings were generally consistent with the 2007 study, particularly with regard to the high levels of mistrust and suspicion that exist between the homeless and the community. Focus group participants perceived the community as hostile and uneducated as to the real lives and circumstances of homeless people. In spite of the best efforts of service providers, Turlock’s homeless population continues to feel that the community’s contempt for the homeless overrides compassion (see Garcia & Jasek-Rysdahl, 2007:49). This project reemphasizes the need for a response to homelessness that is underpinned by coordination, cooperation, collaboration – and compassion.